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What You Should Know About Posture
Sit up Straight. Stop Slouching. Uncross your Legs. Text Neck. Never sit for more than 30 minutes.
How many times have you heard these things?
It’s time to re-evaluate thinking about posture. If you’ve been told you have “bad” posture, it doesn’t always mean you are going to be in pain.
So, here is something that everyone should hear.
Posture is not always 100% correlated to pain or injury!
Research is sparse when it comes to posture-related pain and discomfort. So, who is to say that bad posture or even lifting with a rounded spine causes pain? In the clinic, I’ve seen people with impeccable posture be in more pain than those who present with “poor” posture.
So, why has “good posture” been a discussion point for decades?
Over the years, the health and wellness industry has idealized good posture. Unfortunately, many postural beliefs are based on anecdotal information. That is why it has become a common belief that sitting or standing with impeccable posture will mitigate pain. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Postural ideals have become normalized, and it’s time for this to change!
Thanks to Dr. Google and their cohorts, humans have become fearful of letting their bodies move. What many often forget is that movement is a key to health and longevity. Moving into varying positions allows our body to build resilience. That is why…
Your best posture is your next posture. 🙂
How many times have you been told to “protect your spine”? How many times has someone told you to sit up straight? Have you avoided slouching or lifting with your back but you still experience pain? Have you ever thought that pain may be a result of not moving our bodies throughout their full ranges of motion?
I’m not saying as physical therapists we do not observe posture. We observe static posture and dynamic postures. We observe posture under load and stress to examine your body’s tolerance to tasks. Ultimately, we examine your body’s ability to perform what you’re asking it to do! The knowledge we gain watching you move can be much more applicable to your healing than observing your static “postural faults”
So, what do you really need to know about posture? Good Question, right? Let’s examine some of the most important points to take away from this:
- The definition of “perfect” posture may not always be perfect for you. One thing I like to discuss with people is anatomy. If I were to take 100 people and look at their bone structure, some may be similar, but others totally different. How can we define what “perfect” posture is when everyone is different? Let your comfortable posture assist you in finding your “perfect” posture. Don’t always try to mimic the perfect posture diagram! It may not be right for you.
- There is no true “correct” posture. This piggybacks on the idea above. Yes, there are postures that look more “correct” than others, but it does not make it right! Try out different postures- sit up straight, bend over with a rounded back, sit slouched. It’s not going to kill you if you try! If anything, it may help your body become more resilient over time.
- Things like happiness, sadness, or distress can affect your posture. Your posture reflects how you feel. If you are sad, stressed or upset you may exhibit different postures as compared to when you are relaxed, happy and determined! Also, research shows that a person experiencing stress is more prone to experiencing pain!
- Sitting or standing too perfect may affect your breathing! I want you to try this: pull your shoulders back and stand in what may be considered “ideal” posture and try to take a deep breath. Now, relax a bit, let your shoulders roll forward slightly, and retry that deep breath. Which one seems a bit easier? For most, it will be the latter. Our bodies aren’t made to be restricted and there are areas that move easier when relaxed. Our rib cage and lungs are good examples.
- Sitting is not dangerous. Not moving is. We shouldn’t be afraid to sit. If you do have to sit for a prolonged period, fidget! Keep moving in your chair, and when you can get up and take a short walk. It’s not the sitting that is bad, it’s the lack of any movement that is.
- The spine is strong! I’ve addressed this several times before on different social media posts. The spine is a very resilient structure that is meant to bend and twist. Like our other joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles surround the structural components of our spine making it strong! Yes, over time our spines may change, but it is normal just like our hair turning grey! If you are fearful of moving your spine in one direction or the other, I recommend seeing someone to help you regain your confidence in doing so! It may be hard, but you can do it!
- Stop Negative Thought Processes. Improving your posture will not fix all aches and pains. Your bad posture is not the sole source of your aches and pains. Slouching will not kill you, not moving regularly is more of the culprit. Our spines are not fragile structures, they are strong and mobile, and we need to keep them that way. We will not develop arthritis due to bad posture; it truly is something that happens as part of the normal aging process. Just remember, you can sit for as long as you please and you can cross our legs if you are comfortable. Just remember, your posture is not going to destroy you as you’ve heard from medical professionals and even the mainstream media.
I’m not bashing on good posture even though it may seem that way. Props to those who do have picture-perfect posture! What I want readers to take away from this blog is… don’t put down those who aren’t picture-perfect, because their “picture perfect” may never be the same as yours! Thoughts on postural pain stem from anecdotal evidence and not well-researched information. Be your own picture-perfect, and if that means having a slight slouch, so be it!